Kim Gordon – The Collective review: whisper it quietly, but this could be Gordon’s best work to date. 

B&W image of Kim Gordon

Review

rating
10/10
Rating
10.0/10

Kim Gordon is an icon of the alternative scene. Riot Grrrl-in-chief, figurehead of Sonic Youth, avant-garde provocateur and visual artist: the list of Gordon’s accomplishments and creative endeavours reads like lyrics from The Collective’s lead single ‘BYE BYE’.

murky, dark, broody and menacing whilst remaining gloriously experimental and boundary-pushing, Gordon’s second solo record proper, The Collective finally lands this week – and it’s everything we could’ve wished for.

From the outset, ‘BYE BYE’ is some opening statement. Sitting upon a trap beat originally designed for Playboy Carti, KG’s croon sounds superb over the percussive style. She delivers her lines in a style akin to spoken word, with crashing, angular guitars coming in and out of leftfield. ‘BYE BYE’ plays as a to-do and packing list before a trip: “Hoodie, toothpaste, brush, foundation/Contact solution, mascara, lip mask, eye mask.” The beat is infectious and groovy, whilst coalescing with Gordon’s vocals exceptionally; she is all in on this style and her gutsy approach to musical revolution pays dividends through the speakers. This tune is a mere snapshot of The Collective as a whole, but it works wonders and stands head and shoulders above so much other experimental rock.

Much of this record follows suit sonically, but Gordon has found an angle that is exceptionally fresh. ‘Trophies’ is a stuttering beat complemented by some great synthesised wobbles and an underlying tone of menace: she manages to create this ethereal dread by overlaying feedback and fuzzy guitar over the trap and trip-hop beats. Utilising brief moments of silence in several of these tracks; a second’s break in the momentum before you’re thrown headlong into a mix of processed beats and cacophonous guitar. One especially thrilling moment in ‘I Don’t Miss My Mind’ sees a brief pause filled with Gordon commanding “Fuck it up!” before relinquishing her call to arms moments later with a concise “Don’t fuck it up!”.

The whole record is an expert blend of the old and the new. ‘It’s Dark Inside’ acts as the perfect meeting point for grunge guitars and trap beats, and sees Gordon whispering at times and vocalising at others throughout. She plays everything expertly here, never fearing the unknown, instead embracing it with panache.

There are glimpses of the new direction Little Simz has taken her Drop 7 release, with a focus on lo-fi, club-style beats throughout. ‘Psychedelic Orgasm’ is a prime example of this, as breaks in the beat are complemented by vocoder-drenched wails and breaths. The track builds exceptionally in waves. Gordon strips things back a little on ‘Shelf Warmer’, and that insipid sense of dread returns in a massive way: it moves and twists like the score to a horror movie, or a gritty psychological thriller. It’s utterly inspired.

Gordon’s grunge roots come back with a snarl in The Collective’s final act, where ‘The Believers’ sees her delivering lines like Mark E Smith before the track fades to just feedback and drum machine. The industrial post-rock guitars are never far, however, and as the penultimate track fades into ‘Dream Dollar’ it’s clear that musical chameleon Gordon is working at a level above the rest of us.

‘Dream Dollar’ is one of the best cuts on the LP, it flips from a wobbly, synthy drum machine to big, noisy math-rock guitars as Gordon repeats “cement the brand”, in what feels like a cutting jab at an industry that values sales figures above creative growth.

Overall, this is nothing short of a masterpiece from Kim Gordon: her expertise in blending brand-new, cuttingly fresh sounds with nostalgic fuzzy guitar is unmatched here. Whisper it quietly, but this could well be Gordon’s best work to date. 

featured image: Danielle Neu

Review

rating
10/10
Rating
10.0/10
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